Vending machine adventures

I just realised, or perhaps re-realised, today that there's a beverage in my school vending machine called REAL GOLD.

Seriously. Think about that. It's REAL GOLD. REAL GOLD! Isn't that either blatant false advertising, or an unbelievably toxic concoction that most definitely should not be offered to schoolchildren?

It does give me a kind of post-scarcity post-human utopian thrill to imagine a world in which heavy-metal-metabolising cyborgs can buy a can of real gold for just 90 Yen, though. No, I lied, it doesn't. They would at least have to be using New Yen or GalactoCredits for the idea to thrill me.

Last week, they added a new beverage to the machine's range. Unfortunately, they didn't think very hard about where to put the "new" badge, and it covers up part of the logo. Renaming the product:

active die!

Popularity factor: 13


Metallic gold's too unreactive to be really toxic - in fact, weren't there places in Japan during the bubble economy where you could buy tea (or coffee?) with gold in it? Although if anything this strengthens the "false advertising" case (assuming there actually isn't any real gold in Real Gold).

(I guess if you consumed enough of it it might affect your appearance, like those colloidal silver "supplements" that end up dyeing people grey).

--Tim May


But it's not in metallic form -- it's drinkable! Ahh, the searing pain!

You're right, I do remember reading about gold-dusted beverages during the bubble. Heck, even in upstate NY I once drank schnapps with gold in it. Or at least it was supposed to be gold. I can't tell the difference in taste between a tiny fragment of gold and a tiny fragment of gold-colored glitter.


Mind you, the Active Die might be truth enough in advertising to balance the Real Gold.

By the way, why so much english on the packaging there? I've wondered why english would be so prominent in a non-english speaking country.


I gotta get me summadat Active Die.

Actually, you can still get all kinds of stuff here with large amounts of gold flakes in it. I watched yet another lame variety show about it just the other day. Cakes, hot chocolate, tea, soup ...

Yet another indicator that as a whole the Japanese don't have a clue (insulation, medicine, ATMs ...).


"Not having a clue" seems harsh. Maybe, when it comes to using gold in their products, they just have a different clue from us. Perhaps, if culture were a scavenger hunt, the clue we got about gold is "not to be used except for money and jewelry"; the clue Japan got was "Gold is good. Anything goes".

The active die picture reminds me of this one I saw the other day.


Well, I was envisioning fine gold dust suspended in a potable liquid. Pure liquid gold would not be, strictly speaking, toxic, if admittedly quite lethal (melting point 1337.33K according to Wikipedia). Or you could dissolve it in aqua regia. That would be extremely toxic, I'd imagine. You could have special bottles that kept the gold and nitric and hydrochloric acid separate before use. It'd be a really stylish and expensive way to die in agonizing pain.

--Tim May


other gold-flake containing beverages include the spirit Goldschlager (sp?). a cinnamony liqueur with actual flakes at the bottom of the bottle.

one shot of goldschlager and one shot of jagermeister will give you a drink called "liquid cocaine". now that shit is toxic!



Goldschlager, that's what I had!

In any case, it's good to know I can always turn to my readers for helpful and detailed advice on how to kill myself with gold.

Ali: this is not an absolute rule, but I've noticed that english/japanese labelling is often used to signify the presence or absence (respectively) of "foreignness".

For example when it comes to beverages, bottled tea (especially green tea) and other Japanese things tend to be labelled in Japanese, while other stuff like sodas and vitamin drinks are labelled in English (even drinks that are most definitely Japanese in character, like Calpis).

I can only assume that "labelled in the language Americans use" is part of the soft drink image. And I guess the target market for drinks like this speakd enough english to be able to read (or at least identify!) the name.


On product labeling in English:

And I guess the target market for drinks like this speakd enough english to be able to read (or at least identify!) the name.

Actually, they don't need to, because the name of the product is always spelled in katakana in smaller letters below the English. This is the real product name, and the English is essentially used for decorative effect as if it were just a pretty design. When given the name for something in two different writing systems, people will always assume that the one in their own native language's system is the real name. I call this phenomenon "bilingual labeling subjectivity".

On the use of gold:

In my recent reading I came across something about the "Keeley cure" for alcoholism. I'm reading about Chicago in the 1890s at the time of the World's Fair, and at this time the Keeley cure was extremely popular. Alcoholics undergoing treatment had daily injections containing gold and other ingredients. The cure seemed to have a high success rate.

This article suggests that gold may still be considered useful in Western medicine as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and even neurological/glandular disorders.


It's true, people do have a tendency to assume that their own language is the "real" one (REAL GOLD does include リアルゴールド on the label, touche)... but I don't think they're ALL that way. For e.g. Suntory is surprisingly consistent about calling DAKARA "DAKARA" and not "ダカラ". Maybe its legal name is the katakana version, but it definitely goes by romaji for all intents and purposes.


Ha! Behold the latest post at Laputan Logic.

-- Tim May


That makes sense. By the way, the prompt that got me asking was thinking of growing up in Canada where there's the bilingual laws for english and french and in what order, etc. That's legislated, but in the US, it seems more of an anything goes and up to the seller. Sometimes you'll get aditional text in Spanish, and more if it's an import. Some you can tell has Canada as a major market because it follows the bilingual english/french laws and they're being thrifty with the packaging. It's all rather interesting.


Evil bastard

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